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01.12.2017 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 1/2017

Electrocardiographic changes mimicking acute coronary syndrome in a large intracranial tumour: A diagnostic dilemma

BMC Cardiovascular Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2017
Nilukshana Yogendranathan, H.M.M.T.B. Herath, S.P. Pahalagamage, Aruna Kulatunga



ST elevation Myocardial infarction is a medical emergency. A variety of noncardiac conditions had been known to mimic the ECG changes that are seen in acute coronary syndrome. Although the common ECG changes that are documented with raised intracranial pressure are T inversions, prolongation of QT interval and sinus bradycardia, ST elevation or depression, arrhythmias and prominent U waves have also been recognized. However, ST elevations in association with primary intracranial tumours are rarely reported.

Case presentation

A 68-year-old female patient with a large left sided frontoparietal sphenoidal ridge meningioma with mass effect developed sudden onset shortness of breath while awaiting surgery. Her ECG showed ST segment elevations in the inferior leads along with reciprocal T inversions in anterior leads. The patient was treated with dual antiplatelet therapy and unfractionated heparin. The ST elevations in the ECG remained static and the cardiac Troponin assay was repeatedly negative. 2D ECHO, coronary angiogram and CT pulmonary angiography were normal. The repeat noncontract CT scan of the brain revealed two small areas of haemorrhage in the tumour.


The two mechanisms for ECG changes described in subarachnoid haemorrhage are the neurogenic stunned myocardium due to the catecholamine surge on the myocytes and stress cardiomyopathy. The same mechanisms could be the reasons for the ECG changes seen in intracranial tumours. These ECG changes could be easily misdiagnosed as acute coronary syndrome. This case emphasizes the importance of the cardiac biomarkers, 2D ECHO and coronary angiogram when confronted with such a diagnostic dilemma. Thus a more holistic analysis should be practiced in diagnosing acute coronary events in patients with intracranial pathologies to obviate a myriad of unnecessary investigations, interventions, costly treatment strategies which may well be detrimental to the patient.
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